The Discipline of Stewardship

9b2500aafa4e285f1243433b190a0cb3--church-fundraisers-campaign-ideasMESSAGE. Christians are joined to their fellow believers in the bonds of Christ and ‘the bundle of life’. The church is a living organism rather than an organisation, but no organism can exist without structure. The Scripture calls us to assume “communal” responsibility for the body of Christ even within the smallest local church. This is not a burden to escape, but a privilege to enjoy.

This Sabbath morning we will study what this togetherness in stewardship is all about.

MINISTRY. Season of Change met Thursday for lunch for a Tropical Celebration. Lupina and her team served over 50 widows with the help of our Kitchen and Table Decorating Angels.




The Men’s Ministry team is actively serving on several fronts. This morning I received the following message and photo from Paula Wolfe:

“”The Caregiver goes first” but, praise the Lord, my faithful friends rescued me, and helped me to get stabilized after Roger’s passing. Please pass along a humble and heartfelt THANK YOU to all who energetically pitched in here to help me with moving, sorting, cleaning, selling, etc. Today was a big day with my yard sale. Roger had many interests and stuff to support those interests. I desperately needed help and many of my friends came to help. I still try to cope with the loss and with the frailty from nursing Roger, but my church family is always here to help.”

Congratulations to Kayley Hicks who was baptized by elder Manny Vela at Cohutta Springs on July 14. We will welcome Keyley into the Fellowship of the Ooltewah church on August 4.



IMG_2457This week our church family lost Delbert who was almost a hundred years young! Here is a life sketch shared with me by his family:

 “Delbert DeLos Fisher came into the world on January 8, 1919 in DeKalb county Indiana being the oldest of five. They moved shortly after that to Amboy Indiana where the family grew with the addition of Christiana, Lawrence, Bobby D and Rosalyn he was the lone survivor.  He graduated from high school at the age of seventeen and worked various jobs like riding the carriage and turning the logs at large blade saw mill. Before joining his father on the Pennsylvania Railroad as a trackman in a section gang maintaining a six mile section of track by hand replacing Ties and rail as needed. Not having much seniority he got laid off and was conscripted into the Army in 1941 before WWII after Pearl Harbor he remained in the Army for the duration. While he was in Texas his 16 year old love, Betty Grover hitch hiked with her sister they married soon after and remained so for 65 years.  After Dad shipped off to India spending 30 days on a troop ship where he volunteered for KP duty so he could be closer to the food. And Betty returned to Amboy Indiana to live where Dad returned to family and work on the railroad, and was the proud father of William Delbert, Rodney Lee, Candice Ann, and Catherine Sue. Dad became a Division Equipment and Material Engineer in Fort Wayne Indiana. Promoted to varices positions in Harrisburg Pa. and Canton Ohio making life long friends the way. Many of which he spent him with in Avon Park Florida after retirement at the age of 60. With failing help of Betty with Parkinson disease the family made a car-a-van trip from Florida to Collegedale Tennessee to be near family for care and support. Where they did well for acouple of years. Mom lost her battle with Parkinson after being bedfast for 4-1/2 years cared for by Delbert and Cathi. Dad continue to live independently until he was 93 years old with age taking its toll he moved into his apartment in the home of Cathi and Ed. Where he remained until his death on July 25, 2018 when his once strong body gave way to time. He is survived by all his children, many grandchildren, great grandchildren and great great grandchildren.”

Per Delbert’s request there will be no memorial service. In a few weeks the family will gather in Indiana for a private graveside service.

Please pray for Cathy and Ed Demaree and their big family.

Larry Otto had a heart attack last Sabbath after church. He was taken by an ambulance to Memorial hospital. After several tests doctors realized that one of his old stents (17 years old) had filled with too much tissue and was 90% blocked. They cleaned it out and placed a stent inside the old one. Larry is now back home recovering after a very stressful week. You are in our prayers, Larry. Don’t scare us again like this.

My Mom turned 85 this week. She is not as energetic as she used to be, but we are grateful to God that she is alive. She is living with us and I’m absolutely amazed by Galena’s loving care for our Mom. The party turned out to be a total blast with lots of Russian food and delicious pastries. 🙂




The Discipline of Service

CL_serving_others_239277193MESSAGE.  Paul wrote in Philippians 2:21 “For everyone looks out for his own interests, not those of Jesus Christ.” From the day we’re born, our world revolves around us. Until there’s something else in our lives in control, we’re going to be controlled by selfishness. So for us to become servants, we need an attitude adjustment. This life is not about us. It’s about serving God and others. Faith is demonstrated through action. There is no such thing as a non-serving Christian. It’s impossible. It’s an oxymoron. For Jesus said, “Wherever I am, my servant will be also.” You might be religious, but if you’re not serving with Jesus, you’re not following Jesus. There is no such thing as a non-serving Christian.

MINISTRY. Edymar is back from his exotic family vacation and he is not losing time. Below is a summary-report from the Men’s Ministry team: “Here we are in July and summer is full swing!

Haney’s Hungry Hombres is on schedule for the 4th Sunday of July (29th) and for this month, we will be helping the school with its annual campus work-bee. Our focus will be to provide a big breakfast for the volunteers and to help with mulching the playground. We did this last year and it was so much fun! Everyone enjoyed the breakfast burritos but this year it will be pancakes, eggs and juice.

Please note, we will meet at the fellowship hall at 730am to prepare breakfast. The men will eat at 8am, have a short devotional, then wrap up the men’s breakfast by 830am. Once we are done, we will open the fellowship hall to all the volunteers. We will serve breakfast from 830am to 930am to insure everyone has a full belly and is ready to work hard.

In addition to the breakfast, we are returning to our sisters house to complete the 2nd phase of the project we started last month. Attached is a group photo (some folks are missing) of the first team who demonstrated love in action. A BIG Thank you to all who were able to be there that day. I believe everyone had a good time and were also able to get a lot done! As they say, many hands make for light lifting.

For the 2nd phase, we will need 5-6 able bodied men to move lots of heavy items. We are moving these items in an effort to prepare for a yard sale which God willing, will produce some much needed funds for your beloved sister. If you are able to help, please reply to his email or text me. The plan is to meet at the home this Sunday the 22nd at 8am for 3 hours or so.

Thank you all for what you do. Your willingness and sacrifice to help is exactly what a church community is all about.

If we claim to have fellowship with him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live out the truth. 7 But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin.

1 John 1:6-7

Ooltewah Men’s Group events, services and classes:

  • Sabbath school class, Quest for Authentic Manhood (Every Sabbath morning at 10:15am over at the school in Connie Reynold’s room)
  • Men’s mountain biking small groups will be once a month but the day changes do to the weather. (For more info, contact David Denton 423-505-7878)
  • Love in Action, repairs and building projects for church members and for folks in the community (for more information, please contact Eddie at 813-541-2184)
  • Haney’s Hungry Hombres 4th Sunday of the month (We will have  different speakers and educational presentation each month)
  • The Blessing, Father/Son retreat (End of October 2018). We will be working closely with Blueprint for men this year on this event. More info to come soon.
  • Basketball night, every Sabbath evening at 7:30pm. (For more information, contact John Turner 423-383-0036)
  • Chattanooga Community Kitchen (For more info, contact Lucas Patterson 423-582-1678)”

Thank you, Ooltewah church gentlemen for your willingness to serve! God bless you in your upcoming events and activities.


Pathfinders. I know that many of you took one of the envelopes from the Pathfinder Club tree last week. There are several more still hanging there waiting for your loving hands. I invite you to participate in this church-wide endeavor and help our youth.

Congratulations to the Hall family! They have a newborn baby girl. Here is a post from Alisa’s Facebook page: “Emma Kelly Hall made her grand entrance into the world last night, July 15, at 8:12 p.m. Our baby girl is 6 lb. 12 oz. and 19 inches long, but has already found a huge place in our hearts.”



PRAYERS. I invite you to continue praying for Marleen Keaton who is recovering after the fall during the VBS program.

See you tomorrow at church.


True Christian Friendship

static1.squarespaceMESSAGE. German pastor and martyr Dietrich Bonhoeffer said, “The aim of friendship is exclusively determined by what God’s will is for the other person.”

Jonathan, David’s friend, is a sterling example of true friendship. David was in exile, hiding in the Desert of Ziph, when he learned that “Saul had come out to seek his life” (1 Sam. 23:15). Jonathan went to Horesh to find David. The significance of this scene lies in Jonathan’s intent: He helped David find strength in God or, as the text puts it, he “strengthened his hand [grip] in God” (v.16).

That is the essence of Christian friendship. Beyond common interests, beyond affection, beyond wit and laughter is the ultimate aim of sowing in others the words of eternal life, leaving them with reminders of God’s wisdom, refreshing their spirit with words of His love, and strengthening their grip on God.

Pray for your friends and ask God to give you a word “in season” to help them find renewed strength in our God and His Word. (ODB)

Life-change happens best in circles, not rows.

MINISTRY. This week was all about Vacation Bible School. The church was saturated with happy smiles, joyful songs, exciting games and valuable spiritual lessons. I was impressed with the number of our church leaders and lay members who volunteered to help. Becky Denton and Cory Goss brought together an excellent team of people who genuinely love children. Here is what Becky posted last night:

“What an amazing week of VBS! GAME ON! 72 kids for the week total! Praise the Lord and we raised over $290 for stock the lockers! And got over half a barrel of supplies( pencils, markers, paper, pens, erasers, folders, paper, glue, crayons,socks, underwear, sanitizer, high lighters, rulers, binders, and so much more). A huge thanks to all of our incredible staff and all there time and love! Thanks to the parents for bringing your children and supporting VBS and teaching your kids that loving Jesus is such fun! And that “Jesus cares about me”, Jesus gives us hope, Jesus helps me believe ,Jesus loves me, Jesus gives me joy! And kids thanks for loving Jesus and being so much fun! And remember just because VBS is over sabbath doesn’t mean you don’t keep remembering our themes and live for Jesus!

Heartfelt THANK YOU to everyone who helped. Below are a few photos from the VBS program. (courtesy of Becky’s Facebook 🙂 ).

CHURCH LAWN. Our church property is ready for the Sabbath day! All the lawns around the church look absolutely neat. All because Tracy Downey was there every day cutting the grass for hours and hours in spite of the unbearable heat and humidity. Thank you, Tracy! Your dedication and hard work is sincerely appreciated!

IMG_0755OFFICE. There are billions of things that need to be addressed by the church office staff. Ordering supplies and literature, answering phone calls, creating bulletins for memorial services and buying flowers for birthday parties. Fridays are especially busy. Thank you, Steve, for your dedication. Below is our Steve on a regular Friday (new filing cabinets arrived all banged up… need to be shipped back 😦 ). Next week our office will be closed. Steve is finally taking his family on vacation (to help his elderly mother).


Connie Jones picks fresh organic blueberries every morning from our church blueberry field. She is offering them as a fundraiser for the OAKS tuition assistance fund. Please pick up a box tomorrow. Donations to the fund can be made using your tithe envelope. Thank you, Connie!

PRAYERS. Marlene Keaton fell last night while helping at the VBS. She is thankful that there were four nurses around her. Carleen Zalabak drove Marlene to the Emergency room where Marleen spent most of the night. She has a fractured bone and several bruises on her face. Please, pray for Marlene’s speedy recovery.

Pastor Alexei from Severodonetsk sent me a photo from the Thursday night Bible study. The auditorium was full! Our new brothers and sisters are faithfully attending Sabbath services and Bible studies. Praise God! Please, keep them in prayers.


This week we had a special treat with our grandson Pierce visiting from Florida.


(courtesy of Dasha Crawford Photography 🙂 )

See you tomorrow for a special Message in Music Sabbath with Jaime Jorge playing for both services.

Happy Sabbath!


Free Indeed


MESSAGE. This year on the 4th of July I was preaching in Eastern Europe where religious liberty is fading away under the pressure of civil authorities yielding to the powers of state churches.  On this Independence Day I was on my knees thanking God for all He has given us. The United States is a country in which everyone has an equal opportunity. Let us treasure and protect our freedom to worship and to follow our conscience. 

“Our government was founded on the essential religious idea of integrity of the individual. It was this religious sense which inspired the authors of the Declaration of Independence: ‘We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal; that they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights.’” (JFK)

MINISTRY.  Today is my first day back home after a three week mission trip to Ukraine. What an awesome feeling it is to wake up at home! Thank you, church, for your prayers!

After I align my body clock with Eastern Standard Time, and stop craving for Ukrainian pirogies I’ll find time to write a detailed report on this mission. As for now I’ll say that God has been with us on every step of this journey. He’s been with us on planes, trains, and automobiles. Believe me, we wouldn’t make it otherwise in that war-torn and poverty-stricken part of the world. Surrounded by military convoys, tanks rolling through the city streets, and hotel rooms packed with military personnel, we felt safe in the arms of the Almighty. 

The local church in Severodonetsk had only 85 active members. During the meetings over 350 souls were were eagerly searching for the Bread of Life. Twice a day, every day they were filling up the auditorium on the third floor of the city palace of culture. Despite no elevators or AC with 95F heat they were unstoppable. A hundred and forty five of them are now in the baptism preparation class. The local pastor Alexei initially reserved a room for 20 people for the baptism class. Imagine his excitement when a hundred and fifty showed up! God is at work in Severodonetsk. The local church is adapting to this tripling in size miracle. I assured them that the Ooltewah church will be praying for them daily. 

While preaching in the afternoons and evenings Barby and I were visiting a local city market every morning buying shoes, clothing items, fruits, and sweets for the children in the local orphanage. Delivering these items to the orphanage was always a highlight of the day. They were waiting for the bananas and apples, trying new shoes and T-shirt’s. Every time we came they would have short concerts prepared with songs and poem recitations. Thank you, church, for proving the funding for these precious children. Below are just a few photos. I’ll share more details tomorrow during the worship service. 

STEWARDSHIP – What does God entrust to us with which we can be good stewards? Time, Opportunities, Relationships, Gifts, Employment, Family, Money, Resources, Environment, Networks, and more …

The goal of stewardship is to act in a way that is consistent with how God would act were He the one who was in possession of the same items.

Thank you for your wonderful support of the local church budget in June.

VBS is starting this Sunday morning. Please pray for the VBS leadership team.

See you tomorrow morning.